It’s cold (in Kansas City), it’s dark, it’s Monday… this is a job for espresso! This morning I’m having a look at Bold Bean Coffee Roasters’ Sweet Spot espresso blend and I’m excited because it’s an opportunity to take some pictures of espresso drips, too, which is the equivalent of Instagram gold! LOL Slurp!
Purchase this coffee directly for $14/12oz (get 15% off orders with “15BEANS” at checkout, too)
BOLD BEAN COFFEE ROASTERS SWEET SPOT ESPRESSO BLEND
Nothing quite gets me going in coffee like espresso. It’s my first true love in coffee (thanks to spending ages 12-18 in Rome) and when a roaster sends me an espresso blend, I am always excited to bust into it. And when that espresso comes from Bold Bean Coffee Roasters, I get doubly excited! To date I’ve reviewed 13 coffees from Bold Bean, all of which have been spectacular, and when people ask me “where should I buy coffee from?” Bold Bean is always in the list because of this. I’m a fan, you bet! People don’t always naturally pair “coffee” and “Florida” together in the same sentence, but Bold Bean has a nice hold on Jacksonville with three cafes, the first of which opened in 2011, and simply, they rock! Florida has a great specialty coffee scene, too, and add to that the traditional Cuban coffee culture and you have quite a love for this liquid gold there.
It has been a while since I had anything from my good friends in Jacksonville and they recently sent a trio of coffees to me, with their Sweet Spot espresso blend in the mix, so I have to start here! This is Bold Beans “signature” espresso and what they use in-house at all the cafes. The blend changes with the season, but they roast and blend it to achieve as consistent of a flavor profile as they can, which is really vital for a cafe espresso blend (customers like consistency). This current iteration of Sweet Spot is a natural process coffee from Carmo de Minas (Brazil) and a washed coffee from Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Bold Bean say this coffee works great as a drip/pourover/filter coffee, too, but I went straight to my espresso machine with it. We don’t really keep milk in the house, so I pulled all my shots as Angelo Moriondo intended! Bold Bean gives us tasting notes of, “sweet fruit, cola, cocoa, dried fruit” for this one and while I didn’t try it with milk, there was nothing in this espresso that made me think it wouldn’t play very nicely with milk drinks of all sizes.
Bold Bean recommends pulling shots at a 1:1.5 ratio of coffee in to espresso out, giving specific parameters of 18g in, 27g out in 27.30 seconds (LOL) with 199-201F water. I cannot control water temp on my Gaggia, so it is what it is. My best shots were coming in closer to a 1:1 ratio in 27 seconds and, man, were they good! For the gear heads (and if you’re reading an espresso review, it’s safe to assume you want to know all the details), I am using a Gaggia Classic with a fairly well-tuned OPV for 9 bars (using the blind adjustment method). Grinder is a Rocky Rancilio that is dedicated to espresso only, but this is a stepped grinder and even with very fine steps, I couldn’t quite dial in at the exact specs Bold Bean recommended, hence hitting slightly higher and lower ratios than the recommended 1:1.5. I use an aftermarket naked portafilter with a Decent Espresso 20g precision basket (58.5mm if I’m remembering right) and a matched Decent Espresso precision tamper that is also calibrated to, I think, 25lbs of tamp force. Rounding it all out, I use Third Wave Water’s espresso product in distilled water for the most consistent water I can get.
After some futzing around with my grinder, I did manage to pull a shot of Sweet Spot right in the sweet spot of 18g in, 27g out in 27 seconds and, man, was it good! Pulling 18 in, 36 out in 27 seconds, the espresso was a little too acid-forward, although it tasted fine overall. And with 18g in, 20g out in 27 seconds, more like a ristretto, it was darn good, too. Between the 1:1-ish range and 1:1.5 range Sweet Spot has decent crema but a super luxurious, syrupy body. It has a silky smooth mouthfeel and a lot of density pulled to those parameters and it’s just heavy and sticky and gooey and I know I’m getting creepy, but sometimes that’s what happens with espresso! LOL This coffee has great balance and a little bit of both brighter, “third wave” style espresso and the roastier, more traditional Italian espresso I grew up on. In the long, long aftertaste I get cocoa and some roasty notes. In the espresso itself I get some lemon-lime (more lemon than lime) acidity along with some raisin and plum notes. The gooey sweetness reminds me of caramel and it’s a really balanced espresso, too, which is appreciated. I’ve actually been testing espressos for about a year to find the perfect one for a friend of mine who likes not-too-bright espressos but also not totally traditional ones and I’ll be ordering a bag and sending this to him because it’s right in that sweet spot (good name for this coffee!).
I know I only tried this coffee as espresso, but I’ll bet it has as much balance and is an easy drinker on filter, too. As straight espresso, Bold Bean’s Sweet Spot is awesome and it’s right in the wheelhouse for what I like… a touch of modern brightness, a lot of traditional elements done really well, and it pulls well at those lower ratios I like for that huge, syrupy body that, for me, makes the drink. I can’t recommend this enough.